Interview: Photographer Sylwia Łęcka (Poland)
Can you tell us a little about you?
I’m a self-taught photographer based in Krakow, Poland. This is the city I call home and in which I normally work. I take photos from the simplest reason you can imagine – because I love it.
On a daily basis I’m a Business Analyst and IT Project Manager within finance industry. I’m skilled in graphic design, UX, frontend development, information architecture and basic programming.
How and when did you get into photography?
It happened when I was about 13 years old. I got my first ‘serious’ camera - Canon T70 - and played with it for some time. I really liked the experiments and using SLR, however I wasn’t that obsessed with photography that time. I would occasionally take some pictures - mainly street photo, landscape, macros - but I had long breaks between sessions and was focused on literature rather than images.
When I was 22, I bought my first DSLR and basically - which is a standard reaction for a lot of photographers - I photographed everything around me. It took me next 4 years to find out that portraits are my thing. Given this, it’s not that easy to pinpoint the exact moment when I got into the business. I usually refer to 2011-2012.
Would you consider yourself a hobbyist or a paid professional?
A hobbyist. I hardly ever take paid assignments, my preference is to do what I want instead of being dependent on the customer’s requirements.
What does photography mean to you?
It’s a really tough question. I’d say it depends on the situation - in some cases it is about freezing moments and people, in others about creating a whole new reality. I like conceptual and creative portraits - changing my models and showing them what they might become. Sometimes it doesn’t have much in common with who they really are, sometimes it is about taking their features and extending them. I am interested in what is hidden, dark, extraordinary and unique in people. Photography would therefore be the way to highlight and transform this uniqueness.
On the top of it, I am very sentimental and subconsciously focused on what is lost - love, life, moment in time. Photography is the mean to preserve things that will finally die.
Please briefly describe your photography style for our readers.
I think I still don’t have a specific style defined, constantly looking for my own. I change quite often, especially when it comes to the preferred topics. What all my works have in common is probably some sense of darkness and nostalgia in them, even if I take fashion shots. People tell me that all my models look unreal or dead - they are probably right.
Where do you get inspiration from?
Apart from the technical skills and IT involvement, I’ve been always hooked on humanities and craft. Educated in literature, art and classics, I find these disciplines my roots and ultimate source of inspiration. Most of my concepts are created and executed solely by myself – I do prepare majority of the stylings, sometimes craft accessories like headdresses or jewellery.
I obviously have my favourite topics and styles e.g. Catholic symbolism, nature, painterly looks, mixing fashion with fetish. I watch a lot of pictures on the internet - I think it’s inevitable and something photographers cannot escape today - and they naturally affect my work. However, the final product is always a mixture of consumed images and my imagination.
Think you in advance what you want in the picture?
Yes, definitely. When I have enough time to chew it over, I prepare the whole concept and detailed description - including the story, emotions, atmosphere and style. Usually I have certain frames in mind before I start working it’s not fixed though - I treat it as a draft that can be changed during the session, depending on the cooperation with the model or new ideas flowing in.
Studio, on location or both? Both, depending on a concept.
What has been your most memorable session and why?
Last year I was preparing for a session when I got information that my beloved grandma died in hospital. My model travelled a long distance and I decided - which was very difficult itself - not to postpone the shooting. It occurred to be the most unique and emotional session I’ve had so far. And at the end of the day it turned out to be a very healing experience as well.
Nikon or Canon? Favorite lens?
Definitely Canon. T70 was my first ‘serious’ camera - back in 1999 - and I’ve had a huge sentiment for the brand since then. When I’m on location or focused on beauty shots my favourite lens is Canon 135 mm f/2.0L. When I don’t have too much space, I switch to 85 mm f/1.8. I’ve used these two for about 90% of my shots.
What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer looking to start their own business?
Don’t copy images that you see on the internet or that sell well. Choose your own path and it will pay off in the end.
What do you think of our new magazine?
I love the variety of nationalities and styles that appear in the magazine. It’s great that the Editors search for both emerging talents and experienced artists.
model: Olga Milej - MUA: Magdalena Pakiet
model & MUA: LaLunarelle style: Sylwia Łecka
model: Kamila Korgól MUA: Agnieszka Grzegorek style: Sylwia Łęcka
model & MUA: Magdalena Pakiet - style: Sylwia Łecka
model: Kamila Korgól - MUA: Agnieszka Grzegorek - dress: Magdalena Pakiet - style: Sylwia Łecka
model: Samantha Mima MUA & style: Sylwia Łecka, Marcin Satoła
models: Joanna Szczepocka & Klaudia Komperda MUA: Natalia Mitera style: Sylwia Łecka
model: Qadesh MUA: Aleksandra Płońska style: Sylwia Łecka
model & style: Katarzyna Dorda MUA: Marta Aleksandra Wiatr
model: Wojti Grzesiak MUA & style: Sylwia Łecka
model: Natalia Słupina MUA: Karolina Tekieli